More than 90 educators spent their Saturday at Poplar Springs Elementary School in Meridian for the Mississippi Whole Schools Winter Regionals, which showed them how to better integrate the arts into their classrooms.
Mississippi Whole Schools is the state's first comprehensive statewide arts education program that uses the arts as a vehicle for learning, according to mswholeschools.org.
Clair Huff, arts coordinator for the Meridian Public School District, was pleased with the turnout as educators from central and south Mississippi attended to learn more about arts integration and its benefits.
“[The teachers] are here to learn about how to use the arts in their classroom in math, science and English language arts reading,” Huff said. “Research shows us that arts can improve student achievement, student engagement, their motivation, as well as, things like student attendance.”
For example, students could be asked to paint three flowers, each with seven petals, to help them gain a better understanding of multiplication, according to Huff.
"They're learning elements of visual art, but they're also learning math at the same time," Huff said.
"This program of professional development is to provide a variety of ways for students to learn, according to Charlotte Smelser, director of arts and education for Mississippi Whole Schools.
Another example of learning is using dance to asociate different facts to physical movements, such as the evaporation cycle.
"The beautiful piece with this also is that when it comes time for students to be tested, they have internalized this, they've put it in their bodies and then they can recall it with greater ease," Smelser said. "We use drama and theater a lot for language arts, and ELA (English language arts) connections so students are able to show their understanding of vocabulary and show recall of a story."
"The arts make learning fun. It makes teaching fun, too. It accomplishes so many things for us," Huff said.
MWS is sponsored by the Mississippi Arts Commission.
For more information on arts integration learning, visit mswholeschools.org.